Minister Francis Fonseca reiterates needs for Maya Land Rights Issue to be Resolved
The issue surrounding Maya Customary Lands has been dragging out for years. In some instances, it would have seemed that the government and the Maya communities were nearing a consensus, and in other instances, it would seem that the matter has not progressed. Today, however, we can tell you that the government has officially announced that they are at the process of proposing the delimitation of the boundaries of the villages. The proposals are open to be negotiated during the planned consultations, led by the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. In a release from the government, it was indicated that they are also open to discussing key aspects of the draft policy, especially and particularly, paragraph five. Additionally, the government noted the importance of reiterating that they are in no way limiting communal lands to one kilometer. It is left to be seen how these consultations will pan out, as tensions are high, especially after Saturday’s meeting in Santa Elena Village, Toledo. The issue of Maya lands is a very sensitive matter, one that the Minister Francis Fonseca says needs to be resolved.
Francis Fonseca, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Because you all know this is a very challenging complex issue, there is no secret. It’s no secret that this matter has in effect been left idle for many many years under the previous government. We have a consent judgment from the Caribbean Court of Justice. Government is obviously obliged to follow that judgment, to respect that judgment and I think that is what we have been doing. Minister Dolores Balderamos Garcia has been working very closely with these communities to try to implement the court’s judgment that is our responsibility as a government but it’s not easy. It’s not easy. It’s a very challenging process. You know we’re working with all of these different communities so I’m very hopeful that you know that everyone can work together respectfully. I think that’s the keyword, respect. We have to respect each other, understand that that we have perhaps different responsibilities but at the end of the day we have a shared commitment to on Belize so it’s a challenging issue but I’m very hopeful that the work that the minister is doing will prove to be very fruitful and positive.”
The government concluded its release by noting, quote, “Our government and ministry call for respectful consultations and not hasty misinterpretations as we work on the implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice ruling.” End of quote